Not many of us would say January’s our favourite month. But it doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom once the festive season has come to an end.
The days might still be dark and chilly, but January marks the beginning of a new year and there are plenty of things that you can do to make it a month as exciting and enjoyable as the next.
With this in mind, here are 13 things to do and places to visit in the UK in January that’ll hopefully get you excited about the new year. From music and food, to stargazing and wildlife watching, we hope these ideas leave you feeling inspired.
1. Lose yourself in music at Celtic Connections, Glasgow
According to The Guardian, “If there’s something that makes wintertime in Glasgow great, it’s Celtic Connections”. Celtic Connections is an annual folk, roots, and world music festival that celebrates its links to other cultures.
With over 2,100 musicians from around the world, expect Glasgow to be brought to life. As well as concerts, there’ll also be talks, art exhibitions, and workshops to enjoy.
Celtic Connections runs from 19th January to 5th February 2023.
2. Celebrate Chinese New Year, London
Celebrating Chinese New Year is a great way to get out of the house and experience some of England’s vibrant and diverse culture.
The celebrations typically involve parades, dragon boat racing, firework displays, delicious food, and a variety of exciting performances.
London is generally the most famous UK location for celebrating Chinese New Year. However, if this is too far away for you, Liverpool, Manchester, and Birmingham are also great places to celebrate.
3. Go wildlife watching, UK-wide
Winter is a wonderful time to immerse yourself in nature and do some wildlife watching.
The bare trees make woodland creatures easier to spot; birds begin to arrive for the winter months; and a number of unique creatures appear on the coast. Plus, with fewer crowds around than in the summer months, you’re likely to get a better view too.
Here in the UK, we’re blessed with beautiful landscapes that are home to amazing wildlife. And while some winter wildlife only appears in specific areas – for example, migrant coastal birds – you may be pleasantly surprised just how much nature can be found on your doorstep.
To see what’s near you, check out the National Trust’s list of best places to spot winter wildlife. Whether you head to Norfolk’s Blakeney National Nature Reserve to spot grey seal pups; go birdwatching in Wembury, Devon; or try and spot the elusive pine marten in Crom, County Fermanagh – wildlife watching is a fun and highly-rewarding winter activity.
4. Visit St George’s Market, Belfast
If you’re in the mood to shop and eat good food this January, why not head to the award-winning St George’s Market in Belfast?
As the last surviving Victorian market in the city, St George’s has been awarded for its fresh, local produce, and buzzing atmosphere. It has been labelled one of the best things to do in Belfast. It’s the ideal location for foodies and creatives alike, with around 300 traders and food vendors who set up here.
St George’s Market is open to the public Fridays to Sundays. Belfast Food Tours, which begin at the market, are available until April too.
5. Stargaze at Kynance Cove, Cornwall’s Lizard Peninsula
Located on the west side of the Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall, Kynance Cove is a National Trust Go Stargazing Site.
Due to its low light pollution levels and distance from nearby cities and towns, Kynance Cove has been recognised by the Go Stargazing team as a top location to spot stars.
Due to the location’s popularity, it’s usually extremely busy during the summer months – so why not skip the crowds and take a trip this January instead?
6. Celebrate Hen Galan, North Pembrokeshire
While the rest of us celebrate the New Year on 1st January, for those in Cwm Gwaun, a small wooded valley near Fishguard, Pembrokeshire, ‘Hen Galan’ falls on 13th January. In Welsh, hen means ‘old’ and calan means ‘first day of the month’.
When the ancient Julian calendar was formally abolished in 1752 and replaced with the Gregorian calendar, the people of Gwaun Valley resisted the change – a tradition kept alive to this day.
Hen Galan today is viewed by many in the area as a celebration to rival Christmas – with singing, gift-giving, and a delicious feast – often at a pub. So if you’re looking for another round of celebrations to lift your spirits this January, why not immerse yourself in Welsh culture and take a trip to Pembrokeshire for Hen Galan?
7. Discover the City of Caves, Nottingham
Hidden deep below the familiar sights and sounds of Nottingham is the UK’s largest network of caves in the UK. With over 800 hidden beneath the city streets, this is a historic site with a twist.
As you adventure through the winding passageways of this underground world, you’ll discover the caves’ fascinating history. First recorded under Viking occupation in the 9th century, the caves also served as a medieval tannery and World War II air raid shelter.
8. Go skiing in the Cairngorms, Scottish Highlands
Cairngorm Mountain, in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park, is Scotland’s favourite mountain destination – and the ski area here is the ultimate winter playground.
With over 30km piste runs, 10 surface lifts, and freestyle terrain, the Cairngorm ski area is the perfect place for beginners and experts alike to enjoy an unforgettable winter snowsports experience.
Just 10 miles from Aviemore, there are plenty of accommodation options, which you can browse on the Cairngorm Mountain Scotland website.
Alternatively, if skiing isn’t for you, there are plenty of other to explore and enjoy here too – including a number of picturesque walking trails, the Mountain Garden, and the mountain tubing and adventure park where you can enjoy high-speed experiences with incredible views over Loch Morlich and Spey Valley (open until 8th January).
9. Immersive Gamebox, UK-wide
If you’d prefer an indoor activity this winter, why not head to Immersive Gamebox with some friends to try your hand at one of their hi-tech arcade-style games and challenges?
From memory challenges, to trivia games, and races against time, the interactive smart rooms at Immersive Gamebox feature motion tracking, projection mapping, surround sound, and touch screens. You’ll be transported to another world in this one-of-a-kind full sensory experience.
Immersive Gamebox is perfect for families, groups of friends, and couples – just remember, you’ll have to work as a team!
Immersive Gamebox has locations in London, Essex, Manchester, and Yorkshire, which you can browse here. Alternatively, if none of these locations work for you, Otherworld offers very similar experiences. Otherworld currently has locations in London and Birmingham, and will be opening in Manchester and Edinburgh soon.
10. Take a trip to Thermae Bath Spa, Bath
Thermae Bath Spa is Britain’s only natural thermal spa. The baths continue to flow with natural hot water throughout winter – which can offer a welcome dose of warmth during the colder months.
With a luxury spa, peaceful cafe, and rooftop pool with breathtaking views across Bath’s city skyline, Thermae Bath spa is celebrated as a remarkable combination of ‘old and new’. The contemporary glass design blends effortlessly with the historic spa buildings.
Whether you book a relaxing spa session, enjoy the naturally warm and mineral-rich waters, or marvel at the breathtaking views across Bath’s skyline; a trip to Thermae Bath Spa is an excellent way to enjoy something a bit different this winter.
Note: Thermae Bath Spa will be closed for maintenance from 16th-26th January 2023.
11. Visit a cosy pub, UK-wide
Pubs are a cherished part of the UK landscape – and during the winter months, they offer an especially welcome place to cosy up, enjoy a hearty meal, and chat over a drink or two.
You could set a particular pub as the end-point of a brisk winter’s walk, or plan a trip to one which has great reviews for their Sunday roast.
If you’re not sure where to go, why not try one of the pubs listed in our article; 12 historic pubs to visit across the UK?
12. Get involved with celebrations for Burns Night, UK-wide
Burns Night is one of Scotland’s most cherished celebrations, held in honour of famous Scottish poet, Robert Burns.
Since Burns was born on 25th January 1759, Burns Night is held on 25th January each year. It typically involves a ‘Burns supper’ where you can expect to enjoy plenty of poetry, haggis, and whisky tasting – and of course, lots of fun and laughter.
You can find out more about what to expect from celebrating Burns Night on the Visit Scotland website.
Alternatively, if you’d prefer to stay home, check out this guide to celebrating Burns Night at home from Taste Talk, which covers everything from food and drink to music.
13. Make a New Year’s resolution vision board
January marks the beginning of a new year – a time when many of us like to set goals and targets for the months ahead.
However, it’s a well-known fact that many of us struggle to stick to our resolutions long-term. In fact, this survey found that only around 24% of people manage to keep it up for one year. If this resonates with you, why not consider trying a different method that might help you stick to your resolutions better this year?
For example, you could try making a New Year’s resolution vision board. Studies show that writing down and visualising resolutions and goals can lead to greater self-confidence and belief that you’ll succeed. Check out our article, How to create an inspiring vision board, for ideas on how to get started.
Or, if you’re not sure what resolutions to make, our article, 12 New Year’s resolutions that aren’t just for January, might give you some ideas. From setting physical and mental health goals, to decluttering your home and learning a new skill – stick to some of these and 2023 could be your best year yet.
As it marks the end of the festive season, January is sometimes given a bad wrap. But with so many fun things to do this month, there’s plenty of opportunity to start 2023 off with a bang and make it a month just as enjoyable as any other month.
From wildlife watching, to relaxing spas, top foodie destinations, and exciting cultural traditions, there’s something for everyone to get involved with this month. Whether you choose to do these activities with friends and family, or as a satisfying solo adventure, we hope they leave you feeling happy and inspired.